Emergency Building Evacuation Guided by a Wireless Sensor Network

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One of the most important applications of wireless sensor networks is building monitoring and more specifically, the detection of emergency events and the provision of guidance for safe evacuation of the building. We have developed an emergency management application which in the case of an emergency event (e.g. fire inside the building) it uses the information gathered by the wireless sensor network in order to find the shortest safest path away from the emergency and provides navigation guidance to the occupants to evacuate the building through the nearest safest exit.

The system consists of a wireless sensor network that monitors the environmental conditions inside the building, a static base station (Sink) that collects the sensory information and the EvacuationPath application that runs on a desktop PC and provides the calculations for finding the safest path to an exit. For simulation and demonstration purposes, we used a Moway robot that represents the building occupants and we implemented a demo application that simulates the above mentioned emergency management application.

The deployed sensor network consists of twelve TelosB sensor nodes. Motes have all been programmed in TinyOS environment. One of the TelosB motes acts as the base station of the network (Sink) which is connected to a desktop PC and runs the EvacuationPath JAVA application. The EvacuationPath JAVA application provides the mechanism for generating safe shortest paths (using the Djikstra algorithm) and visualizing the network. It also enables us to initialize the connection between the robot and the Sink.

In order to represent the building occupants we used the Moway Robot. The Moway Robot is not equipped with an integrated onboard antenna, thus it is not able to communicate with the Sink. In order to enable the communication between the robot and the rest of the sensor network, we connected a TelosB on the Robot using expansion connectors along with three pull-down resistors of 2.2KOhms. The three General Purpose Outputs of TelosB mote are connected to the three General Inputs of the Moway Robot.

The developed demo application is fully distributed and does not require any topology knowledge. Furthermore, using the sensor network it can detect critical events on time and provide to the occupants on-line navigation towards the exits of the building for safe evacuation.

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